ParupalliKashyap won the Badminton men’s single Gold medal in the 2014 edition of the Commonwealth Games.
In a career spanning 13 years, Parupalli Kashyap has been on what can only be described as a roller-coaster ride, having tasted career-defining highs and crushing disappointments.
The 31-year-old, who won his first title since 2015 at the Austrian Open in February 2018, spoke to The Beat about missing out on the Commonwealth Games squad, an event where he won Gold in 2014, the growth of his fellow players and much more.
Q:You are a two-time medallist at the Commonwealth Games, the reigning champion in the men’s singles event, but you are not a part of the Indian contingent this time around. Why?
A: I think there is only one factor: I got injured. In 2015, I got injured. I had a calf muscle tear and I missed two months. Then I twisted my knee and fell down, I missed another 6-8 months.
I returned in January 2017, was ranked 50th in the world at the time and then in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), I dislocated my shoulder. I lost another four months.
I returned from a completely dislocated right shoulder, which is my dominant hand but for the next 4-5 months, I struggled with small niggles in my shoulder. I have counted two years for you.
If for two years you are injured and also have niggles, then you can’t expect to qualify. I don’t think I had a chance. I tried my best, came close in certain stages. Credit to the current group, who made the cut. Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy have played very well. I still believe that I belong to the Top 5 or Top 10 players in the world.
Q: During this phase when you were injured, what kind of support did you get from the Badminton Association of India (BAI)?
A: They have been very supportive. When I returned from injury, my rankings were down. There are a certain set of rules like the Indian players ranked in the Top 50 get funded. I was ranked in the 200s. I asked them for a buffer of about 6-8 months to support me. If I get back my rankings, then I will be a part of the team, if not then they could cut me off.
This is what I wrote to them and they helped me during that period. They took care of my expenses, they funded me, which was of great help. I also got support from the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) as well.
However, the BAI can still improve in dealing with the injured players by providing them with (better) support facilities. The number of physios has risen in the national training centres. But it should continue to rise further, simply because the number of players taking part is increasing with each passing event.
All credit to Gopi Sir (Pullela Gopichand), who has been trying to make the best of funds and facilities that are at his disposal.
Q: The last 12 months has been extremely good for Indian badminton, in particular themen’s singles shuttlers. Srikanth won four Superseries titles in 2017, Prannoy and Sai Praneeth performed very well in tournaments.What do you think has helped them developconsistency in their game?
A: I don’t see a sudden change because I was the India Number 1 for a long time before they came onto the scene, but I trained with them and always believed that they were capable of being in the Top 10 and the Top 20. They had the skills, they had the attitude to work hard and were smart.
Fortunately, they had someone like me and Gopi Sir. I was performing consistently, and they got the confidence from there. SainaNehwal, as well, was doing very well at the time and subsequently, PV Sindhu started to perform.
I think they had the (quality) in them. It was just a matter of time that they got enough experience and understood how to play against certain players and how to remain consistent. It will only keep getting better.